Is “Freedom” Your Definition of Physician Career Success?

by Francine Gaillour, MD

in Aligning With Values & Purpose,Career Resilience & Fulfillment

A discussion with one of my mentors, coach and counselor Dr. Beverly Brashen, inspired me to rethink the definition of career fulfillment. Beverly combines the unlikely duo of Raja Yoga and computer-based biofeedback in her work with executives who go through her Peak Peformance training …


by Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE, Executive and Career Coach for Physicians

It’s tempting to look at physician career success as being the convergence of skills and financial reward. In working with my clients, I marvel at how many find a path that seems counter to what they thought they wanted when we first met.

Instead of a way “out” of medicine, one doctor found a way to be MORE of himself, but in a different practice situation. Instead of taking on a leadership role that would be “the next level up”, another physician opted to make a lateral move to learn a new industry.

When it comes time for you to move closer to what you “really want” — here is a suggestion for where to aim: Personal Freedom.

Personal freedom is having a sense of inner peace, of knowing you are in the “right place” for you, and of being content with your life.


Four Paths to Personal Freedom: Could One of These Be Yours?

For any one person, how you achieve personal freedom will be unique to you. Here are FOUR paths that might lead you there. As you read about each path, keep in mind that a couple may make sense to you, but probably JUST ONE will truly resonate for you.

  • Path 1: Spending time in activities that calm your mind, such as yoga, exercise, meditation, or maybe even dance. Reading books or listening to tapes create the environment conducive to calming the mind and therefore moderate how you respond to “stressful” situations. The aim here is self-management.
  • Path 2: Keeping busy with tasks and jobs that have to be done. These are the tasks that are both the daily routine and the extraordinary, the work that keeps the world humming. The aim here is action.
  • Path 3: Investigating and researching information for the sake of knowing and categorizing. This includes the seemingly wasteful Internet surfing to serious bench research in the lab. The aim here is knowledge.
  • Path 4: Creating physical health though exercise, stretching, and eating well. This includes making conscious choices about food to being an elite athlete and physical specimen. The aim here is physical vitality.

Where To Focus

So what do you do with this information? First, identify which one of the four Paths is most aligned with how you operate. Next, ask yourself, “if I were able to devote more energy to that one path (or give myself permission to more fully engage in that path), would that feel like freedom“?

Not long ago I had a client who was embarking on a transition. We noticed that he had a difficult time giving himself permission to let go of an “action oriented” definition of success. He was itching to go further down a path that was more aligned with the self-reflective aspects of who he was. Not that he was planning to become a monk in a monastery, but he was ready to devote more energy to activities that pulled him inwardly in a creative way. He is now now starting to sense the “aahhh” of personal freedom.

Let me know what Path defines personal freedom for you. As always, I’m curious about what my Daring Doctors readers are thinking.

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